Joe Haden is back with the Browns after a four-game suspension has ended.
By FRED GREETHAM FS Ohio
BEREA— Joe Haden couldn’t wait to get back into the Berea training facility.
After being banned the day after the
Browns lost their season opener to the Eagles, Haden was not allowed in Berea until Monday morning for testing positive for a banned substance.
“I had time to really do a lot of reflecting,” Haden said. “I came in really early (Monday). Just to be around everyone is good and I had to know everyone was good.
“Just knowing my teammates have my back (is important to me).”
One of the first things Haden did when he met with the media was apologize.
“I’d like to apologize to the fans, Haden Nation, coaches and the other players,” Haden said. “I hurt a lot of people for the decision I made. I just want everybody to know I hurt a lot more people than I thought I would.”
Haden confirmed he took the substance Adderall, used by some to stay awake or alert.
“It was just a very dumb mistake,” he said. “It wasn’t intended to hurt anyone. It was just dumb.”
Haden said one of his first stops this morning was to go to Pat Shurmur’s office.
“I apologized to (Shurmur) and he said we have to move forward,” he said.
Shurmur said he expects Haden to immediately step back into his starting role.
“We have Joe Haden back and we’ll put him in there,” Shurmur said. “We’re moving forward.”
Shurmur confirmed his talk with Haden.
“Yes I did,” he said. “This was the first day that Joe could be in the building and we talked about what we are going to do as we progress.”
When Shurmur was asked if Haden will step in immediately this week against the Bengals, he said: “He’s one of our better players.”
One of Haden’s first assignments will be taking on Bengals’ wide receiver A.J. Green.
“It’s perfect timing,” Haden said. “I want to try and make a statement.”
Haden said he feels he’s ready to go, as far as conditioning. He said he has been working out in Washington D.C.
Does he feel he’ll need to shake the rust off?
“I hope not,” he said. “I’ve been working out like I did to get ready for OTAs.”
Many feel the loss of Haden might’ve cost the Browns at least a game or two in the win/loss column.
“I won’t say I cost the team (wins), but I definitely would’ve helped the team,” he said. “For me, to say it would’ve been different if I would’ve been playing, I can’t say.”
Besides the loss of four games and four game checks, Haden also isn’t eligible for the Pro Bowl, but he still hopes to put up good numbers. He was off to a good start with six tackles and a 50-yard interception return of Michael Vick in the season opener.
“I want to still have Pro Bowl numbers by the end of the year.”
Walking Wounded: Just when the defense and the secondary gets a big boost in the return of Haden, several other key defensive players might be out a while.
Cornerback Dimitri Patterson left after the opening kickoff of the second half with a sprained left ankle. He said he injured it early in the game, but it swelled up and he couldn’t go in the second half.
Patterson was in a walking boot and had two crutches. He said he thought he’d be out “a couple weeks.”
Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson exited with a head injury and defensive lineman Ahtyba Rubin had a lower leg injury. Shurmur offered no updates on either. Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw put up 135 of his 200 yards after Jackson left the game.
“No updates on anyone,” he said. “We’ll see (Wednesday).”
He did say that Jackson was in the building.
Shurmur was asked about making excuses as the injuries pile up.
“I believe it I just don’t say (next man up).”
“It’s a good question but I’m not wired that way,” he said. “I believe it really is the (next man up).”
Second Guessing: A couple of plays could’ve changed the complexion of the game. The Browns were leading and could’ve at least extended their lead with a field goal before the half, but quarterback Brandon Weeden threw an interception and the Giants ended up scoring three times in the final three minutes of the first half.
The play in question was a third-and-1 on the Giants’ 25 with 3:46 to play in the half. Rather than hand the ball to running back Trent Richardson and at least get a field goal, Weeden tried to hit wide receiver Jordan Norwood on a quick out and safety Stevie Brown intercepted it. Richardson was on the sideline for the play, as running back Chris Ogbonnaya was in the game.
“We have third-and-1 passes and runs and we mix them up through the game,” Shurmur said after the game. “Had we completed that third-and-1, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, right? It could have been easy to say, ‘Man, Pat, on the third-and-1 previous to that one when, Trent got bottled up, why the hell didn’t you throw it? I get it and I know you’ve got to ask the questions and I know we’ve got to have stuff to talk about.”
Shurmur all but admitted the three minute period of time cost the Browns the game.
“We can’t let a three minute period wreck the performance,” Shurmur said. “There was a 21-point swing, the way I look at it.”
Shurmur was asked Monday about the play.
“It looked the same every time,” he said. “We need to execute better. It was still an interception.
“On the third-and-one, I think it was (Weeden) trying to make a play,” he said. “I think there’s a fine line between being aggressive and playing smart.”
Shurmur said he doesn’t second-guess himself.
“I want us to execute the play we call better,” he said. “I’ll let you guys do the second-guessing.”
Earlier in the second quarter, the Browns had a first down at the Giants’ 21 after Richardson ran left for nine yards. Faced with second-and-1, Weeden threw behind wide receiver
Josh Gordon on a slant and then on third-and-1, Richardson was dropped for a two-yard loss forcing a field goal to make it 17-7.
The question was why not give the ball to Richardson again, but Shurmur said the play was supposed to be a run.
“It was a built in run play, that had a slant built in,” he said. “The quarterbacks coach said it was an inaccurate pass and the receiver coach said he should’ve caught it.”